County Executive Ken Ulman issued an executive order on Tuesday that will require all county vending machines, events, programs and departments to migrate to lower sugar and lower calorie options.
“I was amazed to learn that researchers link 20 percent of the nation’s weight problems to consuming sugary drinks,” said Ulman. “County Government can lead by example to support people in making better choices for themselves and for the children who follow our habits.”
The executive order was issued the same day Ulman participated in an event where 9.6 tons of "sugar"—actually white sand—was dumped at Burleigh Manor Middle School to show students how much sugar they would consume if each had one 12-ounce soda per day in a year.
After the event, Lisa Regnante, a Burleigh Manor Middle School PTA member, and mom to two sons who write a food blog, said, “It’s a never-ending battle to stay on top of what is in these drinks. When we have information about sugars, high fructose corn syrup, dyes … we can make our own decisions.”
The standards are based on guidelines from the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The guidelines require sweetened beverages to have less than 5 calories per serving, fruit beverages to contain 100 percent juice, milk options to be unflavored and contain less than 22 grams of sugar per eight ounce serving. In addition, diet drinks with artificial sweeteners will be limited to a quarter of the total beverage offerings.
"I hope it leads to other food standards and initiatives to encourage better health," said Ulman in a statement.
The county will transition to the new standards as contracts expire or are renegotiated with vendors.
The move does not apply to county schools. But Superintendent Renee Foose said at the event Tuesday the Board of Education is looking into revising the schools' wellness policy and may consider Ulman's order in that process, according to the Baltimore Sun.
Ulman's executive order comes about three months after the New York City Board of Health approved a ban on the sale of sodas and other sugary drinks over 16 ounces. New York's ban was championed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, according to the New York Times.
"This is the single biggest step any city, I think, has ever taken to curb obesity," said Bloomberg after the ban was approved, according to the Times. "It's certainly not the last step that lots of cities are going to take, and we believe it will help save lives."
Ulman's order has already come under scrutiny in the state.
"Howard County Exec Ken Ulman has decided that sugary drinks are BAD and can't be sold on county property," tweeted Clarence Mitchell IV of WBAL Radio Wednesday morning. "Nanny Bloomberg SOUTH!"
"As Adults/ Parents it is and should only be our choices to make for both ourselves and or Family," commented Robert Federline on a Patch article, "No one else!"
What do you think, is the ban good for the county or unnecessary? Tell us in the comments.
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